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Early this year, ExactTarget published our 2014 State of Marketing report. We surveyed over 2,600 marketers to identify the major challenges, areas of potential growth, and channel-by-channel strategies that marketers must know in 2014. That research is available in here in the 2014 State of Marketing report.

Personally here are my key takeaways:

1. Marketing is being driven to show results for its increased investments – Almost half (47 per cent) of respondents said their top priority this year was driving increased conversion rates, followed closely by increasing and improving brand awareness (46 per cent) and collecting, measuring and using behaviour-based data (29 per cent).

2. Increasing focus on existing customers – as pointed out in the report, when compared to the IBM State of Marketing 2013, this report shows a much higher concern with engaging existing customers rather than continuously stoking the acquisition fires.

3. Data is seen as the biggest area of opportunity and will be a focus of increased investment (nominated by 61 per cent of respondents). This echoes comments from Scott Dorsey that the Internet of Customers is creating a massive opportunity to connect with customers in new ways using the data that becomes available. Sony Playstation is a great example of a customer at the forefront of this trend.

4. Automation (60 per cent) reflects the reality that headcount and resources is still stretched and marketers are looking to technology to help them do more with their budgets. In October last year Hautelook, an online retailer, shared their ability to execute 200 campaigns a month with a staff of two.

5. Email marketing (58 per cent), social media marketing and content management (both on 57 per cent) remain hot areas.

6. Mobile continues to show missed opportunity and headroom for growth despite clear understood value, this report shows only 30 per cent of marketers have discovered location based marketing. In Australia the situation may be more pronounced. For example, the 2013 Sensis eBusiness Report showed only 17 per cent of businesses had mobile optimised websites despite over half of activity coming from mobile devices.

What does this all mean for SMBs? Whether you are a marketer or not the questions you should be asking is how do you know that your marketing is helping you grow your business? On top of that, how can you create greater engagement with your existing customers? And last, are you armed with the right data within your business to make this assessment in the first place? If not, I suggest that perhaps this might be your starting point.

About the Author

Derek Laney is the Director Product Marketing, Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud

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